This week the architect Oscar Niemeyer shortly came into the news because of a fire that hit the Latin America Memorial in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which was designed by him.
An incident that coincidentally happens in the week we commemorate the death of the architect, who was one of the pioneers of modern architecture and the use of concrete in – for that time – unusual, flowing, curvy shapes. Oscar Niemeyer passed away at the age of 104, today exactly one year ago.
Although Oscar Niemeyer designed around 600 projects around the world, Niemeyer’s name is probably mostly connected to the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, that was developed in the fifties of the previous century to replace Rio de Janeiro as the new capital of Brazil.
Brasilia was erected in less than a decade and built upon a somewhat utopian plan, dividing the city in different zones, such as residential zones, working zones etc. The public buildings designed by Niemeyer resembled these ideas and even by the standards of today, the city centre has a very modern, futuristic feel to it.
While we stayed in Brasilia for about a week last year, and had the chance to see a bit more than the usual tourist trail, we couldn’t help but notice the communistic utopic features of the city too. Yet, also this will not come as a surprise if you know that Niemeyer had a largely leftist ideology and close ties with the Brazilian Communist Party in those days.
When the Brazilian coup d’etat took place in 1964 Niemeyer left the country for Europe only to return 21 years later. Back in his country of birth he continued with his architectural work until his death last year and he designed various buildings in Brazil, like the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (2002) in Curitiba, the Contemporary Art Museum (1996) in Niteroi and also the Latin America Memorial (1989), that partially burned out this week.
For more pictures of Niemeyer’s works and background information, please visit my photoblog SHOuTography.